Bruce Jenner and the divided self

  Bruce Jenner in 2011

Bruce Jenner in 2011

Much of what has been written and said about Bruce Jenner coming out as a transgendered woman has been derisive and ignorant, the two qualities usually going hand-in-hand. Watching his interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC’s “20/20,” I could only feel sadness. It must be terrible to spend your whole life thinking it’s wrong to be yourself.

The self is much under siege nowadays, no doubt as a backlash to our cult of narcissism. The self must be sacrificed to the good of others – critics say. Never mind that others can become a kind of tyranny that crushes the individual spirit.

I’m no libertarian, but you cannot sacrifice what you do not possess. Self-sacrifice implies a self to sacrifice. I thought the single most illuminating moment in the interview was the one in which Jenner said that stepdaughter Kim Kardashian reached out to him in support after her husband, Kanye West, told her that unless you’re happy in yourself it doesn’t matter how wonderful your wife and child are.

While there may be many questions left unanswered about Jenner’s transition, it’s clear that that transition is key to his selfhood.

I wish him happiness on his journey and peace.